Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race:Breezy Start and Trimarans made for exciting start but record stands

Saturday, 26 April 2014


With welcome washing-machine like seas and unexpected winds, the best in a decade race veterans said, nearly 200 sailboats crossed the start of the 67th annual Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, hosted by NOSA, off the Balboa Pier yesterday in Newport Beach, Calif.

Making a stunning debut in this race were two super trimarans: the 60-foot ORMA, Mighty Merloe, and the 70-foot MOD Orion that excellerated like races cars from behind the start, skimmed lightly across the confused waves and lead the crowd down the 125-mile course in hopes of beating the elapsed time record.

The late Steve Fossett’s 60-foot catamaran Stars and Stripes has held that record for 16 years. The time to beat: 6:46:40. Unfortunately, the wind did not last.  At 7pm, when two trimarans appeared on the horizon, darkened by the incoming storm front and making it hard for those waiting to guess if they were going to make it before sundown.

Forty minutes later, after a series of tacks and jibes that had the boats crisscrossing at least three times, Orion was first to finish at 7:40:38.  It its wake was Mighty Merloe, arriving at 7:42:23.

Due to the racing`s handicapped system, Mighty Merloe won the dual with a corrected time of more than eight minutes. The time correction means that this year’s winner may not have arrived yet.

Winds again would be a factor. The storm front that forecast to bring high winds and potential rains provide a needed push for the cruising class boats that can struggle in lighter winds. Racers went through a couple of squalls with knots up to 35-knots and by morning, more than

100 had crossed the finish line.

But it’s not all fun breaking through those squalls.  “That’s when the boats spend most of the time on their ear,” said NOSA Vice Commodore Jerry Moulton. ‘That’s when things break.”

So far though, no reports of things breaking, except possibly the fastest race to finish time. With less than 40 boats remaining on the course by 9a, Saturday, officials expected everyone to finish today.

Although a winner will be determined until all have arrived, Horizon, Jack Taylor’s Santa Cruz’s 50, from DPYC has the advantage, race officials said.

Laurie Morrison

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 April 2014 )